~ Neo Info  ~


This page is to help inform you about the Neo. It includes 

Breed Standards, History, Temperament, Training, Socializing, & Health Concerns. 

Please take some time to get to know this wonderful breed,  before making a commitment to own one.



"Breed Standards"

General Appearance

An ancient breed, rediscovered in Italy in the 1940's, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy-boned, massive, awe inspiring dog bred for use as a guard and defender of owner and property. He is characterized by loose skin, over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. The essence of the Neapolitan is his bestial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude. Due to his massive structure, his characteristic movement is rolling and lumbering, not elegant or showy.

Size, Proportion, Substance

A stocky, heavy boned dog, massive in substance, rectangular in proportion. Length of body is 10% - 15% greater than height.


Dogs: 26 to 31 inches, Bitches: 24 to 29 inches.


Average weight of mature Dogs: 150 pounds; Bitches: 110 pounds; but greater weight is usual and preferable as long as correct proportion and function are maintained.

The absence of massiveness is to be so severely penalized as to eliminate from competition.


Large in comparison to the body. Differentiated from that of other mastiff breeds by more extensive wrinkling and pendulous lips which blend into an ample dewlap. Toplines of cranium and the muzzle must be parallel. The face is made up of heavy wrinkles and folds. Required folds are those extending from the outside margin of the eyelids to the dewlap, and from under the lower lids to the outer edges of the lips.


Wistful at rest, intimidating when alert. Penetrating stare.


Set deep and almost hidden beneath drooping upper lids. Lower lids droop to reveal haw.

Eye Color:

Shades of amber or brown, in accordance with coat color. Pigmentation of the eye rims same as coat color.


Set well above the cheekbones. May be cropped or uncropped, but are usually cropped to an equilateral triangle for health reasons. If uncropped, they are medium sized, triangular in shape, held tight to the cheeks, and not extending beyond the lower margin of the throat.


Wide flat between the ears, slightly arched at the frontal part, and covered with wrinkled skin. The width of the cranium between the cheekbones is approximately equal to its length from occiput stop. The brow is very developed. Frontal furrow is marked. Occiput is barely apparent.


Very defined, forming a right angle at the junction of muzzle and frontal bones, and the sloping back at a greater angle where the frontal bones meet the frontal furrow of the forehead.


Large with well-opened nostrils, and in color the same as the coat. The nose is an extension of the topline of the muzzle and should not protrude beyond nor recede behind the front plane of the muzzle.


It is 1/3 the length of the whole head and is as broad as it is long. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is very deep with the outside borders parallel giving it a "squared" appearance. The top plane of the muzzle from stop to tip of nose is straight, but is ridged due to heavy folds of skin covering it.


Heavy, thick, and long, the upper lips join beneath the nostrils to form an inverted "V". The upper lips form the lower, outer borders of the muzzle, and the lowest part of these borders is made by the corners of the lips. The corners turn outward to reveal the flews, and are in line with the outside corners of the eyes.


Scissors bite or pincer bite is standard; slight undershot is allowed. Dentition is complete.

Neck, Topline, And Body


Slightly arched, rather short, stocky and well-muscled. The voluminous and well-divided dewlap extends from the lower jaw to the lower neck.


The length of the dog, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of buttock is 10 - 15 percent greater than the height of the dog measured from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground. Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog. Ribs are long and well sprung.


Broad and deep, well muscled.

Underline and tuckup:

The underline of the abdomen is practically horizontal. There is little or no tuckup.


Wide and strong. Highest part of shoulder blade barely rising above the strong, level topline of the back.


Well-muscled, and harmoniously joined to the back.


Wide, strong, muscular and slightly sloped. The top of the croup rises slightly and is level with the highest point of the shoulder.


Set on slightly lower than the topline, wide and thick at the root, tapering gradually toward the tip. It is docked by 1/3. At rest, the tail hangs straight or in slight "S" shape. When in action, it is raised to the horizontal or a little higher than the back.


Heavily built, muscular, and in balance with the hindquarters.


Long, well-muscled, sloping and powerful.

Upper arms:

Strongly muscled, powerful. In length, almost 1/3 the height of the dog.


Covered with abundant and loose skin; held parallel to the ribcage, neither tied in nor loose.


Thick, straight, heavy bone, well muscled, exemplifying strength. About the same length as the upper arms. Set well apart.


Thick and flattened from front to back, moderately sloping forward from the leg.


Front dewclaws are not removed.


Round and noticeably large with arched, strong toes.


strong, curved and preferably dark-colored. Slight turn out of the front feet is characteristic.


As a whole, they must be powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters.


About the same length as the forearms, broad, muscular.


Moderate angle, strong.


Heavy and thick boned, well-muscled. Slightly shorter than thigh bones.


Powerful and long.

Rear pasterns: (metatarsus)

Heavy thick bones. Viewed from the side, they are perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from, the rear, parallel to each other.

Rear dewclaws:

Any dewclaws must be removed.

Hind feet:

Same as the front feet but slightly smaller.


The coat is short, dense and of uniform length and smoothness all over the body. The hairs are straight and not longer than 1 inch. No fringe anywhere.


Solid coats of gray (blue), black, mahogany and tawny, and the lighter and darker shades of these colors. Some brindling allowable in all colors. When present, brindling must be tan (reverse brindle). There may be solid white markings on the chest, throat area from chin to chest, underside of the body, penis sheath, backs of the pasterns, and on the toes. There may be white hairs at the back of the wrists.


The Neapolitan Mastiff's movement is not flashy, but rather slow and lumbering. Normal gaits are the walk, trot, gallop, and pace. The strides are long and elastic, at the same time, powerful, characterized by a long push from the hindquarters and extension of the forelegs. Rolling motion and swaying of the body at all gaits is characteristic. Pacing in the show ring is not to be penalized. Slight paddling movement of the front feet is normal. The head is carried level with or slightly above the back.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is steady and loyal to his owner, not aggressive or apt to bite without reason. As a protector of his property and owners, he is always watchful and does not relish intrusion by strangers into his personal space. His attitude is calm yet wary. In the show ring he is majestic and powerful, but not showy.


The foregoing description is that of the ideal Neapolitan Mastiff. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.


Approved: January 13, 2004
Effective: May 1, 2004


"Foreign Breed Standards"

While the AKC standard is the official standard in the United States of America many people often ask what the Italian Standard is. The AKC Standard was taken from the FCI standard but if you are very interested in seeing what the foreign standard is it can be found at

If you are going to show your dog in the United States under the AKC then you must follow the AKC standard.



"Breed History"

The Neapolitan Mastiff is an estate guard dog from Italy. The breed traces its roots to the dogs of war used by the Roman Army. The breed then existed on estates and farms across Italy for the past two millennia, known as the"big dog of the little man" -- the extraordinary dog of the ordinary man. After the devastation of World War II, the breed was recognized as an unquestionable treasure of Italy and consequently, has been refined to its present form over the past 60 years. A standard was first written in 1948, later re-written for greater precision in 1971, and the Neapolitan Mastiff has thus claimed its rightful place among the international world of dogs.

While the Neapolitan Mastiff has been recognized as a breed in the modern world only since recognition by the FCI in 1949, we can see, through bas-relief, paintings and statues dating from 3000 years before Christ, that his roots trace to the giant war dogs of Egypt, Persia, Mesopotamia and Asia. Even as grand a figure as Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was instrumental in creating the modern Neapolitan Mastiff.

Alexander is known to have crossed the giant Macedonian and Epirian war dogs with the shorthaired "Indian" dogs to create the Molossus. The Molossus was a dog characterized by having a wide, short muzzle, and a heavy dewlap, and was used to fight tigers, lions, elephants, and men in battle. This animal is easily recognized as the great forefather of the Neapolitan Mastiff.

When the Romans conquered Greece, they adopted the Molossus Dogs and also used them in battle, in the hunt and in the arena. The Roman invasion of England gave them access to the even larger giant Mastiff dogs there, which the Romans crossed with their own now formidable war beasts. The several different breeds that are descended from these dogs originating in many different European countries, have many traits in common: they are large powerful animals, are devoted to their masters, and are superior defenders of person and property.

Over the centuries, breeders of the Mastino in the Neapolitan area of southern Italy focused on breeding guards for the homes and estate. They created a breed that retained the giant size, heavy, loose skin, and dewlap. This was an animal, which was a stay-at-home type, and was good with the family. It was bred to detect unwanted intruders and to deter them from the property under their care. Indeed, many say that the Neapolitan Mastiff's unique type was developed purposely as an alarmingly ugly dog whose looks alone were enough to deter any intruder.

After the second World War, several Italians began to organize and promote the breed. The first exhibition was held in Naples in 1946 with six Neapolitan Mastiffs being presented. The standard was first codified in 1948 by Dr. Piero Scanziani and the breed was recognized by the FCI (Federation Cynologique Interantionale) in 1949. The standard was rewritten again for greater precision in 1971.

By the early 1970's the breed had representatives in most other European countries and had acquired significant footholds in Germany and in the USA where a few fanciers became fascinated by the art of breeding this uniquely looking and moving dog. And we say art because the breeding of the Neapolitan Mastiff is truly an art. To quote Arch. Giuseppe Alessandra, president of the A.T.I.Ma.NA. (The International Association for lovers of the Neapolitan Mastiff), "There are three important and equal aspects to the Neapolitan Mastiff: its type, its size, and its soundness."

The Mastino's type, its unique appearance, was created in the Neapolitan countryside by years of inbreeding. As a result, the traits that make the Mastino an unusual dog: its wrinkles, dewlap, loose skin, enormous bone, and distinct lumbering gait, are created by an accumulation of recessive genes. To breed a sound dog with these attributes is truly an art...and a challenge.


"Temperament and Training"

The following is not intended as a comprehensive coverage of every temperament issue or training scenario that may occur. This is merely a general guide.

As a Neapolitan Mastiff owner, you have selected a guardian breed - one that is steady and loyal to his owner. He is not aggressive or apt to bite without reason. He is a true guardian of his property and to the family entrusted to him. His attitude is calm, yet cautious, and he is majestic and powerful. He is always watchful and does not take pleasure in strangers who intrude into his personal space.

Many times, dogs of any breed may develop behavioral problems which some may refer to as a bad temperament. If your dog barks menacingly or growls and snaps at anyone who comes near his food while eating or while he is resting, or if he is playful and happy one minute and growling and showing aggression or is agitated easily, then he is a candidate for professional behavioral training. Start by calling your breeder and see if he can offer you some training tips. Remember a dog is a pack animal, and you and family are part of the pack. Dogs know that there is always a leader in the pack, and you as the owner, must assume the role of LEADER of the pack. Your Neapolitan Mastiff must never be allowed to dominate you. Dog aggression, if left unchallenged, will get worse and may result in someone getting bitten. If your breeder is not responsive to your concerns, please do not despair. Contact your veterinarian and ask for a reliable reference of behavioral trainers that are familiar with the Neapolitan Mastiff breed.

One of the most important parts of training is constantly taking the time to reinforce that YOU are the pack leader. Training begins the moment you bring your Neapolitan Mastiff home. Do not give into your new friend. Remember that you love your Neapolitan Mastiff and want only what is best for him. You must socialize the Neapolitan Mastiff from an early age. Take your puppy to as many places as you can where there are people and other pets. This is referred to as 'socializing'. (Note: please remember that your puppy must have received the proper amount of vaccinations prior to socializing with other dogs). Also, placing your Neapolitan Mastiff puppy on a leash for the first time can be quite upsetting to him. This is due to the fact that the leash prevents the natural behavior of dogs, which is running. Dogs can demonstrate their lack of acceptance of humans by fighting the leash or running as far as the tether will allow in an attempt to escape human control. Waiting too long before starting socialization may prove to be harmful. Ideally, socialization should begin before 12 weeks of age.

How much socialization is necessary? During the socialization period, the puppy must experience different varieties of human beings and/or situations. Your puppy needs to experience sharing his space with children and adults of various ages. He must become acclimated to seeing people who wear hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, scarves, ties, individuals of different races or even people who wear perfume. Each of these experiences will provide a new socialization opportunity for your puppy. This can be time-consuming, but in the end it is time well-spent. Your Neapolitan Mastiff puppy should get as much socialization as possible through contact with people. Just be careful not to overwhelm the puppy with too many puppy play dates.

Obedience classes are always a must for any breed of canine. Keep in mind when a canine is removed from the regular presence of humans and other dogs during the juvenile period, they can lose their socialization; so again, enroll your Neapolitan Mastiff puppy into obedience class as soon as appropriate.

"Puppy Socialization"

What happens in a very short time frame can impact your mastino for the rest of its life. Ultimately, the first few weeks of your pup arriving home will shape his learning and development! Make these weeks count by following some guidelines and using the tips at hand.

What you have, or are considering, is a guard dog. In any guardian type breed, socialization is more important than ever! Think of it like this- this dog may think it's 'job' is to guard me, and my family someday. How is this pup, as an adult, supposed to know what abnormal human behavior is if it wasn't properly socialized and taught what normal human behavior is? The more your pup knows, sees, and experiences, the happier and better off he will be!


The above information was obtained from the

"United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club"


"Health Concerns"

Cherry Eye 

What is it?

The medical term for 'cherry eye' is nictitans gland prolapse, or prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. Unlike people, dogs have a 'third eyelid' that contains a tear gland and is located in the corner of each eye. Under normal circumstances, this gland is not visible and aids in the production of tears. For some reason, which is not completely understood, the gland of the third eyelid prolapses or comes out of its normal position and swells creating the condition known as cherry eye.


The big debate on Removal....

From our own experience and what we have learned...DO NOT EVER TACK A CHERRY EYE! It does not work. You will need to have it REMOVED, which is a rather simple procedure. If it is not taken care of, an ulcer over the cornea may develop. Our veterinarian was just at a training seminar with a specialist in this field. She spoke a long time about how you should always tack a dog's eye, and then ended with....

all of this is true UNLESS you have a Neapolitan Mastiff.


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